BY LAURA JANE (ILLUSTRATION BY JEN)
I am quitting smoking by incrementally reducing the amount of cigarettes I smoke per day and documenting my weekly progress on this blog.
MY PRE-QUITTING SMOKING GAME PLAN:
Week 2 (August 8th- August 14th, 2012)- 13 cigs per day
Week 3 (August 15th- August 21st, 2012)- 11 cigs per day
Week 4 (August 22nd- August 28th, 2012)- 9 cigs per day
Week 5 (August 29th- September 4th, 2012)- 7 cigs per day
Week 6 (September 5th- September 11th, 2012) 6 cigs per day
Week 7 (September 12th- September 18th, 2012) 5 cigs per day
Week 8 (September 19th- September 25th, 2012) 3 cigs per day
“Week” 9: (September 26th, 2012- September 30th, 2012) 2 cigs per day (This week lasts 5 days because months are strange lengths)
“Week” 10: (FOREVER!!! THE ETERNAL MONTH!!!) 0 cigs per day!
Week 1's entry features a lengthy preamble explaining exactly why I'm quitting smoking so click away if you missed it the first time around. As follows is the tale of Week 2.
13 sounded so much harder than 15 and I was right, it was hard, but it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be, but it wasn’t that much less hard. It was maybe 3% less hard than I’d expected.
I smoked 2 cigarettes in the morning and had therapy in the afternoon. I challenged myself by only bringing 1 cigarette on my journey. I smoked half of it before therapy and half of it after. I walked all the way there, and all the way back. I bought a Mocha Coconut Frappuccino Light and the chick forgot to put the mocha in and then was a giant bitch to me when I asked her to make it again. That’s irrelevent, but seriously, what a shitty person & barista that girl is.
I didn’t walk straight home. I went for a serious wander and by the time I wandered back to my neighbourhood I wanted to fucking DIE. The air felt like living inside a blister and my shoes were eating up my feet. I really overestimated my own ability to not smoke for three hours. I was fiending. I was foaming at the mouth. Fiending for a smoke- for everybody’s who’s never experienced it- is one of those things like being hungry or tired or sexually frustrated only with more of an emphasis on feeling like your whole body is made of violin strings tuned too tight. I’ve never fiended that hard. It felt worse than all the times I’ve flown across the ocean because I used to bring Nicorette on plane trips and also this was self-imposed and I didn’t get the payoff of landing in London to justify the hellishness. The cigarette I smoked when I got home was one of the best cigarettes I’ve ever smoked in my life. It was like being found.
I came upstairs and had a mini-emotional breakdown about quitting smoking but then I bucked up like the buckaroo I am and the rest of the day was fine. I made it through two hours of a beer on a patio AND a meal of Mexican food with only 1.5 cigarettes! Two weeks ago that would have taken me at least 6. At the end of the night Erin and I were chilling on my front lawn and I realized I had so many cigarettes left over so I had a nice little binge of 3 in an hour and a half. By the time I was getting myself ready for bed I realized I’d only smoked 11. So instead of 1 pre-bed cigarette I smoked 2 in a row. Probably counter-productive but it’s only going to get harder and harder so I’ll take what I can get. If I’m allowed to smoke 13 I’m fucking smoking 13. Goodnight.
Day 9 (August 9th, 2012)
On the first day of my period it was pouring rain and I had a job interview at 3:45. So up until my interview ended at 4:15 PM I was not even myself but rather a grouchy halo of myself floating overtop of my head being anxious and crabby but also pretty hazy and my inner monologue shut itself off since I was in such a “Just DO this Laura Jane, just get yourself THROUGH this” state of mind. I barely even noticed or thought anything about cigarettes and just kind of semi-existed. It was alright.
I went to meet Jackadory after my job interview and bought myself a pack of Benson & Hedges Menthol Lights 100s along the way. Benson & Hedges Menthol Lights 100s were the first cigarettes I ever smoked, in high school. They’re classy and American and fitted in with the idea of the woman I thought I’d grow up to be- a fashiony New Yorker who wears stilettos and all-black, Sylvia Plath meets Anna Wintour. I started smoking Marlboro Mediums when I moved to New York but I’ve always loved a good menthol in the summertime. Menthols are particularly awesome because when strangers ask you for a smoke on the street they usually turn up their nose at the prospect of a menthol so you can just shrug and saunter on along with your life and think or say “Ha! Beggars can’t be choosers!”
I wondered if it was cheating to buy 100s because they’re longer and that equals more cigarette but fuck it, whatever. Part of the reason why I failed at quitting smoking the first time was because I did it without having smoked any farewell packs of all the cigarettes I love the most and I am not making that same mistake again!
100s made it a little bit easier because if you’re smoking a cigarette in two halves, a half of a 100 is more satisfying. It’s a 50 instead of a 30 I guess. I think maybe you get six or seven extra drags out of a 100 over a regular and at this point every little bit helps. Again at the end of the night I had an extra cigarette left over so I did my two pre-bed cigs thing again but I couldn’t make it all the way through the second one. I was tired and I didn’t care.
Day 10 (August 10th, 2012)
It’s getting so fucking easy. I’m used to it now. I wake up in the morning and have my breakfast and cup of coffee #1 and then I go outside and smoke a cigarette. Then I come back upstairs and write and fuck around the Internet a bit more and watch an episode of LOST and then I go outside and smoke a cigarette. I get ready for the gym and then I walk to the gym and go the gym and walk home from the gym and take a shower and eat lunch and smoke a third cigarette. Two weeks ago it went:
I’d wake up in the morning and have my breakfast and cup of coffee #1 and then go outside and smoke a cigarette. I’d come back upstairs and fuck around the Internet a bit and go outside and smoke a cigarette. I’d come back upstairs and watch a LOST and then I’d go smoke a cigarette. I’d write a little bit and go smoke a cigarette. Get ready for the gym, smoke a cigarette on the way to the gym. Work out, light up the second I walked out the gym door. Often I’d smoke 2 cigarettes on the way there or back or both. Get home, take a shower, smoke a cigarette. Eat lunch, smoke a cigarette. Blow-dry my hair, smoke a cigarette. Straighten my hair, smoke a cigarette. Etc.
I hate not having a job. I thought I’d love it because I hate working so much but as it turns out I hate it more. I’m spacey and bored and wistful. Grouchy Halo self. I stayed in on a Friday night to write but then I had writer’s block so I smoked a joint and went on a Kinks-walk (walking while listening to the Kinks on headphones/thinking about the Kinks). I realized soon into my Kinks-walk that I was being an idiot for forcing myself to write and listen to the Kinks when all I really wanted to be doing was sitting on my couch watching LOST. “Sometimes you just need to not write and watch LOST” was a very important lesson for me to learn.
Cigarettes were stupid to me once I was in my LOST part of the night. They made my mouth dry and annoyed me. I wished it was a couple weeks from now so I could smoke less cigarettes in a day and have less cigarettes to worry about. I’m back to crappy old Belmonts. I only smoked 12.
Day 11 (August 11th, 2012)
The world is your cigarette a la the world is your oyster. I woke up in the soggiest mood. I said the words “I’m trapped inside a cage and I feel powerless” out loud within my first hour of being awake so clearly this day got off to a really strong start. The cage was a metaphor for Toronto; I wish that sentence was less like Bullet With Butterfly Wings. I can’t believe somebody named a song Bullet With Butterfly Wings. How could you ever think that was poetry.
Oh my God, I’m digressing. I was so nervy and I smoked my two morning cigarettes to alleviate some of the tension and I realized they did nothing. Cigarettes really fix nothing. I went to the gym, which for real calmed me down, and then I felt less horrible and decided to go out to the suburbs and hang with my mom. I was in a really bitchy mood at first but then I played with her dog Biscuit and lightened way the hell up because Biscuit is so cute and I love her. We ate dim sum and it was so nice, sitting in a dining room eating dim sum out of Styrofoam and feeding Biscuit dim sum. Also my mom introduced me to a bitchin new brand of frizzante Moscato that I’m really looking forward to drinking lots and lots of over the course of the rest of my life. Here is a picture of Biscuit and dim sum because things are boring without pictures and also PS follow me on Insta I’m laurajanefaulds
I hung out with Biscuit and my mom for six hours and only smoked 2 cigs the entire time! My mom was so proud of me.
I got home and decided to stay in and watch LOST again because hey what can I say I’m just at a place in my life where staying in and watching LOST always sounds like my best possible option. Also I’m just really fucking bored of getting drunk and stoned. As per usual I had too many cigarettes left over. I smoked 12.
Day 12 (August 12th, 2012)
I was walking home from a job interview around 5 and had to buy a new pack of cigarettes and kept forgetting about it. I walked almost all the way home and then remembered and had to backtrack back to the corner store. This was a momentous occasion. Two weeks ago I couldn’t fall asleep if I didn't have a full pack to my name. I was obsessed. I’d buy packs of cigarettes in the middle of the day for no reason except that my fear of running out of cigarettes gave me such brutal anxiety that it seemed smarter to just buy them so my head would shut the fuck up. Sometimes I’d have two packs going at once, of two different brands. It’s a fantastic feeling, breaking a habit- realizing you can still be you without it! It’s incredible how freeing this feels.
Easy-peasy. Easy-peasy day. I thought I smoked all 13 but the next morning I found a loosie in my purse so it turned out I only smoked 12.
Day 13 (August 13th, 2012)
I am nervous for the man across the street to figure out I’m quitting smoking. It’s so funny, the things that I decide are worth stressing out about. But I love him so much. I thought he was Italian for the first ten months I lived here, but as it turns out- he’s Greek, and he’s made of sunlight. He has the sunniest disposition. He wears neatly-pressed khaki shorts with a leather belt and either a white t-shirt, a white long-sleeved t-shirt, or a white tank top, depending on the weather. In the morning he wears two-piece blue pyjamas. He is never not smoking a cigarette.
We’ve never had a real conversation but we wave and smile at each other constantly. Sometimes when I go out to smoke I check my phone to avoid waving at him but it’s not because I don’t like him, it’s because you can only wave at a person so many times over the course of one day without the gesture eventually losing some of its heart. And I don’t want to wave at him blandly, because he’s my hero. I want to be sunshine the way that he is sunshine.
I admire him for never quitting smoking and I don’t want him to feel betrayed by me. I hope he’s proud of me. I got a job today, and smoked all thirteen cigarettes to celebrate. I’m a happy camper.
Day 14 (August 14th, 2012)
So this has been my life for two weeks. I like being able to see the days pass like this. I like knowing that the thing I did two weeks ago I did two weeks ago. You life can change a lot in two weeks and you never even remember what "two weeks ago" meant when it was today, what you were doing. People are always looking forward.
I am less addicted to nicotine than I was on August 1st. I don't have a cough and my mouth isn't so dry. Quitting smoking doesn't scare me. I've been listening to "Days" by the Kinks a lot, singing No I'm not frightened of this world, believe me. I mean it about everything and I mean it about not smoking. I'm no longer frightened of a world I don't smoke in.
It rained on my last day of unemployment because HAHAHA LIFE. I went to the dentist and told my dentist I'm quitting smoking because smoking fucks up your teeth and all that; he was into it. I smoked a cigarette at 4 and didn't smoke another til 7:30. I went out that night, celebrating my last day of unemployment; the smoking aspect of it went a-ok. I smoked several in thirds and joked about how many of my friends are going to be pissed when they can't bum smokes off the most dependable source of free cigarettes they have- me. I've always been very generous with giving away cigarettes- "good cigarette karma," I called it. "What do I care?" I'd say, "I'm a smoker; I'm going to buy a new pack anyway."
My friend Ryan and I were standing outside a bar and a drunk girl came up to us. She asked me if I'd go to 7-11 and buy her a small pack of Belmont Silver Kings. She'd left her ID at a bar down the street and figured it was easier to get someone with an ID on their person to run her errand for her rather than walk back to the bar and get her ID. I said sure and bought her her cigarettes. She said I could take some as payment and I said "No, I'm quitting smoking, I don't want them," and I liked myself. I liked myself as being that person. If it had been a month ago I'd have taken five and they'd be gone already.
I took the job I took because I swore I'd never work at any job I couldn't be free at. I promised myself I'd never wear a uniform again in my life, sorry potential employer but I have a closetful of sick band t-shirts and I'm not not wearing them to work anymore! I am so violently devoted to freedom, to my own being free- it's hilarious the way humans are so good at lying to themselves, the way that we're able to twist any fact or truth into meaning what we need it to mean. I always told myself that smoking cigarettes was an act of rebellion, a facet of my refusal to surrender to convention, the "do whatever the fuck you want and never listen to anybody" ideology I abide by, my "reckless abandon," "devil-may-care attitude," "Joe Strummeriness"- I started smoking because smoking's for rebels and I like to be one and I kept smoking because I got addicted to cigarettes. But I told myself I kept smoking because I kept being a rebel. I told myself "I don't fucking care what anyone says, I'm going to smoke until I die and blow smoke in all their faces and I will never die."
Smoking is a boring way to say "Fuck you," and it's an easy way to say "Fuck you." It requires no skill or strength or stamina. It's disobedient but so's most of everything else I do.
Smoking is not an act of rebellion. It's something I'm enslaved by.